Conservationists are worried about the future of salmon stocks on the Gander River after the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) decided to cut the river's $15,000 fishway-monitoring program.

For decades, DFO dammed the site at Salmon Brook each spring, then counted salmon as they swam through the concrete fishway.

The program was the only measure of fish populations returning to the Gander River.

DFO scientist Carol Grant says the decision to end the program was based on a review of how the department could gather the best information about returning stocks.


Conservationist Peter Parsons explains why he is concerned about a DFO decision to end the monitoring program at Salmon Brook. (CBC News)

"When we did this review, we found out Salmon Brook is also located in the area where we have two other monitoring facilities," Grant said.

The nearby facilities at the Exploits and Campbell Rivers will now be used to gauge salmon numbers.

For conservationist Peter Parsons, the decision does not make sense.

"Salmon, as everybody know, go back to their native rivers," said Parsons.

"If something happens on the Gander, we have no way of knowing what the counts are."

Less protection from poachers

With the end of the monitoring program, there will be no more DFO staff on the ground at Salmon Brook.

Parsons said he is worried there will now be less protection against poachers for the fish stock.

"It's very easy to take them out with a net, and you can just walk across the river here and dip them right out of the ladder," said Parsons.

"Nothing to it. Salmon for supper."

DFO said its looking at establishing other salmon monitoring programs, particularly on the island's south coast.

Parsons said he is talking to other anglers and conservationists about an organized fight to maintain the monitoring program at Salmon Brook.